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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Live Anthology (4 CD)
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109 of 113 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon November 23, 2009
Four discs-66,55,53,53 minutes each approximately. The discs are in individual cardboard holders,which are slipped into an open side of the cardboard box. The booklet lists venues,dates,and who played on the individual tracks. There is an introduction written by Petty about the making of this box set. The sound (newly mixed),from various venues across 30 years,is uniformly good. The retro style packaging is perfectly in keeping with Petty's approach to music-when a well made and assembled vinyl album made a true r&r statement for an entire (including Petty) generation of listeners.

In this day and age of over-priced "deluxe" releases/re-releases,even of admittedly great r&r,this collection stands apart. Not only are all the tracks heard here chosen by Petty,guitarist Mike Campbell,and their producer,the tracks cover 30 years of TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS in concert. Great music,nice packaging,and a low price make this worth owning. Petty and his band are one of the few groups still playing music that matters. Listen to any track on this collection,and you'll have all the proof you need,no matter if the song is well known,or a live rarity. Their musical sound and approach have changed little over 30 years. Their combination of influences of Dylan/BYRDS,and rootsy garage rock,combined with a bit of the British Invasion sound,have served as the foundation for their sound from the beginning. And that's what gives their music backbone. On these tracks the band effortlessly switches across musical styles,from originals to covers,all with that sound they've played from the beginning.

All the tracks on this set are on an equal footing,from ballads to all out rockers. Long time listeners of the band will need little proof of the great music here. If for some reason you aren't to familiar with the band,and want a lot of their greatest songs ("Breakdown","Refugee","American Girl",etc.),along with some great covers (THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN's "Something In The Air",BOOKER T. AND THE M.G.'S "Green Onions",just two examples),with the added electricity of a live performance-this is it. With hundreds of hours of live material to choose from,distilled down to four discs,a lot of musical ground is covered. Arguably some listeners will wish a certain song was included (personally I would like to hear more Dylan/BYRDS covers),but overall,this is an outstanding overview from one of the few long time bands that still matters.

For anyone who wants to hear music that is important,but more importantly,exciting and visceral,and that guarantees a good time,this is the set to get. Still,listening to this great music makes you wonder-what more great music is still left on the reels? But this collection goes a long way in satisfying that craving (like mine) for a generous overview of TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS doing what they do best-performing great r&r in front of an audience. With that inimitable sound the band has built on all these years,you get the feeling that this band believes in the power and redemption of basic r&r. This set is even better than the 2 CD set released by Immortal,taken from a concert in 2003,in Chicago.

Do your head a favor and purchase this wonderful collection soon. And then sit back and listen to some music from one of the few long time bands that can still rock and roll.
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100 of 105 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2009
As told in the liner notes, this set was distilled from 3,509 tracks from 169 shows spanning the band's history. I got the collectors edition of this set which is available from the Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers web site (or from Best Buy) for $99, and includes all tracks in this standard 4-CD edition, plus:

* A fifth disc with the following tracks
1) Think About Me
2) Down South
3) I Need To Know
4) Billy The Kid
5) I'd Like To Love You Baby
6) Image Of Me
7) Born In Chicago
8) Like A Diamond
9) The Last DJ
10) No Second Thoughts
11) Ballad Of Easy Rider
12) Don't Come Around Here No More
13) Too Much Ain't Enough
14) County Farm

* A blu-ray disc with all 61 tracks in crazy high fidelity audio quality

* Two DVDs - one of the "400 Days" documentary focused on the 1995 studio sessions and tour for the Wildflowers album, and one of the NYE 1978 Santa Monica show

* Vinyl reproduction of a 1976 live set with four tracks

* A bigger "liner notes" book, and some reproduced backstage passes on a sheet of cloth

So is the standard four-CD set offered here worth it? For under $20 (and less than one-fifth the cost of the deluxe version), you get 47 tracks amounting to about 4 hours of music.

For the key songs that made Petty and the band famous (Breakdown, American Girl, Refugee, The Waiting, Here Comes My Girl), this set delivers red-hot versions that rival the studio albums recorded mostly around the time the songs were new and the band had everything to prove. I've heard many live versions of these songs, and the ones included here do not disappoint.

Before the track list for this set was announced, I just hoped they would include angry, edgy vintage performances of songs like Straight Into Darkness and A Woman In Love (It's Not Me), and they did.

With those bases covered, the set proceeds to stretch out on tracks that reveal the musicianship of the Heartbreakers, in covers, extended renditions (It's Good To Be King: 12:15), and full-on improvisations (Lost Without You). At first glance, you might wonder how tracks like Melinda, Goldfinger, or Like A Diamond managed to edge out some of Petty's more celebrated songs, but the value is revealed on hearing - a great keyboard part or guitar solo, or just an instance when the band all fell in together beautifully. One gets the idea that a large part of the reason for this set (or at least its length) is to let Tom Petty share with the world some of the moments when he felt the Heartbreakers really shone bright.

That said, there are a number of well-known Petty songs that did NOT make it into this set. These include:

Rockin' Around (With You)
Listen To Her Heart
Don't Do Me Like That
Something Big
King's Road
You Got Lucky
Change of Heart
Rebels
Love Is A Long Road
Face In The Crowd
Yer So Bad
Into The Great Wide Open
You Wreck Me
Cabin Down Below
Walls

This set also carefully sidesteps live tracks that have already been released in other collections like the Playback box set (Psychotic Reaction, King's Highway), and doesn't touch Pack Up The Plantation (which I REALLY hope will be restored and re-released in its entirety as a DVD/CD combo - please?)

If any weakness could be found in this set, for me it would be the fact that I'd like to hear more of the older recordings. Many tracks in the set are post-2001, and the samples we get of tracks from 1981 (ie Nightwatchman) sound utterly fantastic. I'll probably find myself repeating those more often, and skipping tracks like I'm A Man, or Mystic Eyes.

Also, I'm surprised that more Fillmore tracks weren't included, like the epic version of Mary Jane's Last Dance (which rivals the shorter version included here), or the blazing cover of the Stones' It's All Over Now. And was there no viable recording of Hang On Sloopy?

And the final criticism - I feel bad saying this, but - Steve Ferrone's drumming (while technically very adept) just doesn't hit me in the heart like Stan Lynch's. Stan had a soulfulness that brought out the power and pathos of the songs. And the years when the band had both Stan and Howie, and those harmonies came through - it was unlike anything else. Fortunately you can hear them both on a number of these tracks.

All things considered, this is a beautiful gift to fans, offered at a pretty amazing price - whichever edition you choose.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
Petty has time and time again proven his loyalty to his fan base. Not only releasing great albums one after another but in these retrospective box sets. I became a huge Petty fan after a friend recommended the running down a dream box set that I bought new for $15 that included 4 discs! And now he puts out 4 disc box of live cuts, ones not filled with the greatest hits only but great album tracks and awesome renditions of some superb covers. The sound quality on this is amazing, I know there is a version with the music on a blu-ray but I can't imagine the tracks sounding any better. This is a home run for the die hards and the casual fans alike. Under $20 for all this music is outrageous. At least in the throw away age of digital music Petty and the heartbreakers are keeping the album format alive with these sweet offerings. One of the greatest live sets available.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2009
What an awesome boxset. From start to finish there are many great tracks. Opening with "Nightwatchmen", a "Breakdown" which includes a short "Hit The Road Jack", covers of "I'm The Man", Thunderclap Newman's "Something In The Air" & the Dead's "Ripple". I can go on listing every song, but they are all excellent. The sound is crisp and the selections combine all of the hits with many other obscure tracks. Then the price....4 discs for this cheap. I recently bought the Rolling Stones "Get Your Ya' Ya's Out" 40th Anneversary box, and although good, all 4 discs cost more than double the Tom Petty box and all 4 discs are only half full of music (unlike the Petty box). Whether a diehard or a casual Tom Petty fan, this is a must have!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Qualified 5-star review - bang for your buck

I'm going to assume that if you're even inclined to search for and/or buy a four-cd box set of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers live material, that you're already a big-to-huge fan. With that stipulation in mind, I'll give this set a five-star review, due to the following:

1) The Music - generous running time on the four (4) cd's (somewhere around 4 hours of music, though I wonder if they could've packed even more onto these, as the discs run around 55 min each?). Anyway, lots of well known tunes, VERY interesting/choice covers, semi-obscurities, and other assorted gems from over the years.
2) Good cross section of years - shows span from 1980 thru up to a couple of years ago, though I wish there was more material from the early days/earlier gigs.
3) Nicely packaged - durable cardboard slipcase with little cardboard jackets, and Sheperd Fairey artwork.
4) Pretty relatively consistently good sound quality - the songs are NOT arranged chronologically (read the liner notes from TP as to why) but it's overall pretty seamless, if you get into the flow. I'll defer to artist's prerogative as to song choices.
5) MIKE CAMPBELL - the heart of this band - maybe the most underrated guitarist in rock history. He gets many moments to shine, as does the band as a whole - plenty of songs give the band the room to stretch out a bit.
6) This release cuts the "Pack up the Plantation" set - the band sounds much more lively here.

The only con I find here is that despite the song selections, everyone is going to find one or more tunes that are their favorites, that didn't make the cut. Again, I defer to artist's choice, and trust that TP&HB's had their reasons for what's in and what's not.

Overall, an admirable archival release, at a hard-to-resist price, and one that I really wish other similar artists (Bruce, Seger, Jackson Browne, etc) would take a cue from - let's get those vaults open, guys?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2010
I've never been moved to write a review before, but I have now been moved. I've always been a so-so fan of Tom Petty. I've got the anthology and like a lot of his hits, but out of the thousands of CD's I own I only had 2 Tom Petty's. This live compilation has made a believer of me. I'm not sure about all of the studio CD's, but based on this album I can't imagine a concert I would love to attend more. I've been listening to all kinds of music for over 50 years, and this is the best live rock and roll band I ever heard (and that includes the Stones).
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2009
This is a total steal: four CDs for under 20 bucks. The sound is stellar and the track selection is excellent. I think I read somewhere that TP himself chose the tracks and the order; if my memory is right about that, then kudos to the man for doing such a great job. The tracks span a thirty-year period, but are mixed in a way that makes it sound like one concert.

It starts out sounding like a greatest hits assemblage, but then things take a very fast left turn into stranger territory, with covers both obscure and well known. Plus as I listened, I realized again just how many hit records this band has had, but more importantly, just how much good music they've produced over the years.

Listening to the different tracks recorded by different versions of the band gives you a sense of how some of the individual members affected the overall sound, but in the end, they ultimately wind up sounding like the Heartbreakers. Every tune crackles with life and vitality, and you get a sense of how broad the range is for this band, and you start thinking they can play pretty much any style they want.

I also agree with the people who say this is better than Pack Up The Plantation, which I thought was an okay live album but not fabulous. This is, and if you like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers even a little, you should get it and crank it up. Kudos, too, to whoever did the artwork and design: very nice retro look. I dig it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2010
6 Disc Changer, New Mustang... These 4 CDs have held on to their slots for over 2 months. I can't take the darn things out. I think about changing them out, and I can't do it. I know that I've listened to the entire set 30 times... They are that good. I was never a Tom Petty fanatic. then I picked up the "Running Down a Dream" companion book at a really big bookstore that's like the line between 2 states... for like $7... and I was hooked. Other reviewers cover what's in the sets (and do it comprehensively and amazingly), so I won't do that. I will just say if you have a little Amazon credit lying around and you have the slightest inkling of Tome Petty fandom in your body (or if you don't, but like real, God's honest, American Rock and Roll) you HAVE to buy this set. It rivals the best live CDs I have ever heard. At some point (when I have the disposable income), I plan on buying the ultimate edition (or whatever they call it), but until then, this does beautifully... Besides, if I had a fifth disc, how would the 2 disc studio anthology fit in the 6 disc changer with this, right?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2014
incredible amount of music..great disc to put on for a house party! really quite amazing how consistent the audio quality is across the board here...hard to believe this was all taken from numerous different LIVE venues. outstanding...very tastefully done...no whiz bang chasing guitars around the room multi channel but modest use of surrounds with very minimal audience intrusion...just excellent quality Petty music!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2011
I won't labor on and on about this anthology. It's great. It is Tom Petty at his finest, plain and simple, because it is live. Moreover, the quality of these literally historic recordings is awesome. You think you're at the concert. And there isn't too much audience wailing to dilute the music. IMHO, these selections are multidimensionally better than the studio equivalents.
Get it!!! You will NOT be disappointed.
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